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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Movin' on uuuuuuuup!!!

That something better I promised? I think it's ready.

Come see me at my new place, won't you?

Later, Blogger!

Friday, November 12, 2004

No. Just... NO.

I'm the one and only Yahoo! search result for "uterus grew back".

I was kidding. Ewww.

(Yeah, I know I've been neglecting my blog duties. Sit tight, my pretties... something good is coming down the pike very soon, trust me.)

Mixed metaphors or channelling?

This morning I happened upon Unexpected Disaster Mess #37 and blew my cool. I mean I lost it but good; the kind of scene where the children freeze, watch me with rapt attention, and then scurry away as quickly as possible before I decide to eat them.

A plant had been upturned. All over a nearby stack of... well... stuff. Clothes, papers, a bunch of stuff I've been meaning to put away. Anyway, as per usual, no one had done it, of course. I launched into my "everyone makes mistakes but I can't help fix it unless someone comes and TELLS me" speech, and both kids insisted that it wasn't them. The steam curled out of my ears as I sputtered.

"You two are like CIRCUS ANIMALS!!"

This perked Monkey up considerably. I'm sure he was envisioning a life of cotton candy and popcorn, and maybe even funny hats. Who knows. Chickadee just cocked her head to the side and was clearly debating the relative merits of pointing out that I wasn't making any sense.

I meant to say they were like barn animals. (Cuz that's much better parenting, don't you think? Accusing them of being barn animals?) I have no idea where the circus part came from. I might've been channelling Jenny. Jenny, can you account for the whereabouts of your psyche at about 7:30 EST this morning??

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Lights! Cameras! Gawking!

How do you know when you have a keeper of a babysitter? Take this simple test to find out!

You should keep your babysitter if:
A) The kids love her
B) She's reliable
C) She lives across the street
D) She's bright enough to call you "just to let you know" that a house a few doors down is on fire, there are multiple fire trucks and ambulances on the scene, and please do not freak out, they are all fine in your house, which by the way is not on fire, and also the kids are sleeping through the whole thing
E) All of the above

If you answered E, you're correct! You are also me! (So stop it, because that could get confusing.)

Usually on Thursday nights I head off to choir, come home, walk the sitter back across the street, and then relax in front of the TV. Tonight, I had to spend an additional ten minutes just getting to my house, because my street had turned into a veritable carnival. The sitter and I then walked past not one, not two, but THREE fire trucks en route to her house, which is--wait for it--only two doors down. We also passed everyone who lives within a five mile radius, I think.

Once I had her safely delivered to her door ("Are your parents home?" I asked. "They're probably standing out on the street watching the trucks," she laughed) I hustled back towards my house, as usual. But the people. My god. There wasn't a raging inferno or anything; maybe there had been, earlier, but by then there really wasn't anything to see other than a lot of rescue vehicles with flashing lights. And I cannot imagine that the rescue workers were finding all these milling, chatting people at all helpful. Yet there everyone stayed, like they were all on line for free food or something. I didn't recognize most of my neighbors, on account of I'm a bit of a hermit, and there were enough people there that most of them probably weren't actually neighbors. Likewise, most of them didn't recognize me, so I shouldn't have been surprised when they eyed me suspiciously. It could have been that I was walking away from the hubbub, which clearly hadn't occurred to any of them as a viable course of action.

Or it could have been that I yelled out, "Dude! Where's the keg at?" as I pushed my way through the throng. Either way.

She gives great encore

Because I have all the memory and learning capacity of a paramecium, I turned on my Ben Folds Five CD in the car again today. When "Song for the Dumped" came on I immediately hit the button to skip to the next track, and Chickadee threw a hissy fit.

Her: NO! Go back! I like that song!!
Me: Honey, I don't think we should listen to it.
Her: But I LIKE IT!
Me: *wavering; hey, I like it too* Well, I guess we can listen to it, as long as you understand they use some bad language in this song that we will not be repeating. We don't use words like that, right?
Her: Right. I know, Mama.
Music: Well fuck you too! Gimme my money back, gimme my money back, you bitch!
Her: Mama?
Me: Yes, honey? *thinking: ooooohhh no*
Her: I would never talk like that. I would say, "May I have my money back, please?"
Me: MMmmffflllggg!
Her: Why are you laughing??

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Cold feet

One Christmas, my ex--who was infamous for being a lousy gift-purchaser--accidentally bought me something wonderful. Well, he paid full price (which as you know I would never condone), but it was wonderful anyway. He bought me a pair of "wicked good" slippers from LL Bean.

I despise the New England habit of labelling things as wicked in order to convey their fabulousness as much as the next transplant, but friends, these slippers live up to their name. They are soft and warm and comfortable and last forever and I may just marry mine this winter. They are that fab. Everyone who sees my amazing slippers covets them, and I am forever gently rebuffing folks with, "NO! THEY ARE MINE MINE MINE AND YOU CAN'T HAVE THEM!"

In fact, the ex coveted them as soon as they arrived. So I did the appropriate thing, and waited two years until a pair in his size showed up at our local Bean outlet and then got him some. There's wicked good, and there's wicked expensive. I'm not saying these slippers aren't worth their full retail price, I'm just saying I'm cheap. Anyway.

Winter rolls around and you will find me in my wicked good slippers just about every moment that I'm here in the house. I'm wearing them right now! (And what are you wearing? Oh, wait; that's a different sort of entry altogether.) It is one of my greatest hopes that I will die with these slippers on and people will fight over who gets to pry them off my cold, dead feet.

It was only natural that when I found myself in a relationship, post-ex, the object of my affections would one day find himself admiring my slippers. And admire he did. And I returned the favor by visiting his place and laughing so hard I nearly peed when he pulled his ratty K-Mart slippers out from under the bed. Because I am sensitive that way. But once again, I found myself making regular trips to the Bean outlet to search for slippers.

I have mentioned this man here, before. He was a dear friend from my college days... a relationship where the occasional spark always managed to come at the wrong time... timing never worked in our favor... and I assumed he would forever be my "what if" guy. A few months after I filed for divorce, the planets aligned themselves and I no longer had to wonder. It was long-distance, but manageable. Things were amazing. For a while.

The children and I spent Thanksgiving with this man and his family, last year. We had a wonderful time down at his family's house (the kids have known him as a family friend since birth, so there was no explanation necessary for them other than "we're spending the holiday with friends"). The next day the kids went off to spend the weekend with my ex, and I was supposed to commence with a rare long weekend with my paramour.

I forget many of the details, but the Cliff Notes version is this: a delightful family-centered holiday and full approval from his entire family of not only me, but my offspring, as well, had freaked him right the hell out. He handled it with all the grace and dignity and self-awareness of your average bachelor, of course. First he picked an argument over nothing, then he commenced telling me how this was no longer any fun for him, and by the time he was into the full-on little-boy tantrum over not having everything in the world his way, I'd hung up on him.

My weekend was spent crying, drinking, sleeping, and waiting for him to show up on my doorstep to apologize. All of my friends were out of town for the holiday. I felt completely alone, humiliated, and bewildered. Saturday night I sent him an email asking if he was going to head back home without even talking to me (I couldn't take it any more), and he immediately mailed back that he was already home and had been since shortly after our phone call. And that was it.

Well, I thought that was it.

The following day (Sunday afternoon) he called. He was wracked with remorse. He was afraid he'd screwed up the only good thing in his life. He loved me and couldn't imagine losing me. We talked for about three hours. I told him I wasn't sure I could move past this. I did what any woman in my place would do: I told him I wasn't sure, and let's see what happens if we take it slow; and then I started polling all my girlfriends.

The overwhelming opinion was that he'd had an attack of cold feet not uncommon to his species. Many of the women I spoke with assured me that good, trainable men had done the same and lived to be acceptable, sensitive mates. It's a big step, picturing not only a life-long mate but children, for a bachelor, and all that family togetherness just tripped a circuit in his brain. Give him another chance, most urged.

So I did. He made it up to me every way he knew how, and when I finally came to trust that Thanksgiving was an isolated incident, I came out on the other side telling myself we were stronger and better as a couple and he was growing and learning and all that sort of stuff that I desperately wanted to believe.

The Bean outlet didn't come up with a pair of slippers before Christmas. So I bought him other presents, and he bought me some presents, and we had nearly a week of bliss together while the kids were at their dad's.

Sometime in February I found the slippers. Sure; it was early to be buying them for next Christmas. But they're hard to come by, and I could just put them away. I brought them home and tucked them up in a closet, smiling to myself to think how much he would love opening them next Christmas. Then I would tell him how far in advance I'd bought them, and he would make fun of my extreme bargaining tendencies, and I would threaten to return them... it would be great.

In March, the divorce was finalized. Huzzah! We planned a party. I bought the food; he bought the alcohol. He invited his friends and family and we planned to burn my marriage certificate. We spoke of the future.

And then, Monkey spiked a fever the day of the party. I called to cancel; I told him we'd have to do it another day because Monkey was sick. He kept saying things like, "But everyone's already planning to come!" and "Can't you just give him some medicine and put him to bed?" My stomach tightened. "Look," I hissed, "I was looking forward to this as much as you were, but my child is ill and I can't have a party tonight. I'm sorry my life is interfering with your fun."

It took a few more weeks before it all fell apart, but of course it did. He was too busy running away and hiding to even do me the courtesy of breaking up with me; finally I told him I was tired of this, and I'd told him long ago not to ask me to choose because he wouldn't win. He clearly wasn't ready for an adult relationship, and I had enough children already, thanks. He didn't ask me to reconsider. He didn't protest. He seemed relieved.

Me? I went on with the rest of my life and quietly shattered into about a billion teeny tiny pieces. Where I'd once been so pleased that I'd managed such a healthy recovery from my divorce, I now suffered all the trauma twofold--everything I'd put off acknowledging about the loss of my marriage, and everything that goes along with losing a fantasy romance. I started resigning myself to a life of loneliness, because only an idiot would go through that again.

I forgot about the slippers until I started cleaning out closets a few weeks ago. There they were, a reminder of the hope I'd once felt. I toyed with selling them on eBay along with a scathing, witty diatribe about their origins. Maybe it would be one of those famous auctions where the price goes sky-high because people are so entertained to hear about how bitter I am! Maybe he would come across the auction and be gripped with regret! Or maybe I should just grow the hell up.

Yesterday, I took them back to the outlet and returned them. The saleslady didn't even bat an eyelash when I confessed I'd bought them so long ago. "No problem!" she chirped. "Any time you have a receipt you can return any time!" No public humiliation for him; just some money credited back to my account, and the small hope that his feet--always so metaphorically chilly--are literally cold this winter, as well.

My feet are toasty in my pair. Maybe there's hope for me thawing, yet.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Nothing to see here; move along

I haven't the heart to embed a pic of myself in the post so that it flashes right up at you when the page loads. Heck; turning the loyal Blog Explosion surfers to stone isn't explicitly stated as grounds for expulsion from BE, but I'm guessing that if word got around, I'd be in trouble.

But you all responded so kindly to the pic of just my eyes and specs (although someone said my eyes are brown and I cried because they're hazel and I felt so misunderstood). It became a real personal challenge to figure out how to snap a pic of myself either by stretching my arms or using the mirror. The result is here for your viewing pleasure. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I kid! Obviously, that's not really me. That chick is way better looking than I am; also in better focus, with some actual color balance, and not smiling the big ol' fake smile of "dear sweet Jesus make this photo be halfway presentable or I am going to smash this here camera into tiny little bits and never let such a device anywhere near me ever again, amen." Also, her eyes aren't hazel. So eventually I gave up, accepting that I am to be slightly blurry and yellow-tinted (you can't use an attached flash in the mirror, ya know), and vowing never ever ever to promise the internet a picture of me ever again.

Call off the alert

Good news! I survived.

I did half an hour on the elliptical trainer, then collapsed onto the floor weeping stretched out for a while. While my hindquarters are still markedly jiggly, I'm feeling the burn, baby.

Unfortunately, Mary only placed second in the Minnesota-wide mathematics competition, and Laura's bundt cake fell apart. It was touch and go there, for a bit. In the end it was okay, though; the town welcomed Mary back with open arms and some dude in a tophat declaring in a thick Scandinavian accent, "Tank you, Mary Ingalls, for putting Walnut Grove on da map!", and Pa said the cake still tasted "mighty fine." Phew.

In other news, Big Company strikes again! They must've heard I've kicked the sugar and all, because even though I turned them down on their offer to be a Vice President of Finance, they're back begging at my door, again. Today they've contacted me to let me know I should apply to be a Vice President of Management Effectiveness. And let me tell you, it's about time they recognized my abilities.

My first decree as VP of Management Effectiveness shall go like this: Hey, get your heads out of your butts and try actually matching people to jobs for which they're qualified, and then when they apply for those jobs, call them back and hire them. Big Company--heck, most big companies--could use some work in this area. I'm gonna have my work cut out for me.

Also, once I'm a VP, I don't think I'm allowed to use the word "gonna" anymore. Pity.

Step 13

I will exercise until my ass and thighs no longer jiggle like a bowlful of jelly when I walk, or until I get tired and need to lie down.

Please stay by your phones. I am headed upstairs to remove my wardrobe from the elliptical trainer, watch reruns of "Little House on the Prairie" on the Hallmark Channel (they're actually great for exercising; it's hard to wimp out while watching a little girl rescue her entire family from a flood or build a house out of logs ya know), and ride like the wind to... nowhere. If I'm not back in an hour, please call 911. And send coffee.

Monday, November 08, 2004

"Hi, Mir!!"

My name is Mir, and I'm a sugarholic. Today marks the first day of the rest of my life (at least until the Christmas season is fully upon us and it becomes my civic duty to eat a lot of sweets again). I plan to take it one day at a time, working my way through all twelve steps of recovery. But I'm really gifted, you know, so I've made it most of the way through the program already.

Step 1: I admit that I am powerless over sugar, and my life has become unmanageable. Today I marched my fanny down to the grocery store determined to pick up the fixings for a healthful, protein-rich dinner. Pork chops were on sale for about $.12/pound as long as you bought the gargantuan family pack, so I brought home about twenty pounds of pork chops and after I divided and repackaged and froze most of them, I prepared a lovely dinner. Yay me. My children performing delicate surgery on the sugar-snap pea pods to extract the peas and then decorate the table with empty pods didn't faze me in the slightest, so grounded was I with my large glass of water and delightfully lean, rosemary-crusted pork.

Step 2: I have come to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. Well, duh. Obviously it's gonna take a whole lotta power to restore me to sanity. It's been years since I believed I could do it myself, candy or no. I hope God is up to the task.

Step 3: I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him. This was another no-brainer. My understanding of God is that He'll help me with this if I ask, but He's just gonna shake his head and laugh if I continue to leave the Halloween candy on the counter. That seems fair. So here's the deal: I vanished the rest of the candy, and He has to keep me from baking cookies. I think that's reasonable.

Step 4: I made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. I can't seem to find a job, or a life, but I'm quite able to find anything high in calories. What does this say about me? It says I'm lazy. Maybe if I focused more of my time and energy on some other stuff, I'd be less compelled to stuff my face.

Step 5: I admitted to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. God and I had a long talk. He was very understanding. Much moreso than I was, with myself. And when I confessed to Chickadee that I sneaked some Milk Duds out of her bucket, well, let's just say it wasn't pretty.

Step 6: I am entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. But damn if He isn't slow. Sheesh.

Step 7: I humbly asked Him to remove my shortcomings. Well, I'm not so great at humble. And it may have been less a request and more of a business proposition... something about how if I stop eating candy, maybe he could drop a job in my lap, or, you know, whatever He saw fit. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, because somewhere in the middle I was struck by lightning.

Step 8: I made a list of all persons I had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. I'm still working on this one, because if my ex is to be believed, the affected number somewhere in the thousands. But if I limit the list to people directly affected by my sugar-mania, it's just the kids. (Phew.)

Step 9: I made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Giving the children--who are in sugar comas, themselves--more candy at this point would be wrong on many levels. So I 'fessed up to all my pilfering, and bought them some celery and granola bars. They're still not speaking to me, but I think they may come around when they figure out how much college tuition costs.

Step 10: I have continued to take personal inventory and when I was wrong promptly admitted it. Well, sure, the first part is working out great. Fortunately, I am never wrong, so I haven't had to do that whole admitting thing. (Who said this was hard?)

Step 11: I have sought through prayer and meditations to improve my conscious contact with God as I understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out. We're in total agreement on the candy thing. He's quite silent on most other matters in my life right now, but I have a feeling that we'll be speaking often once I find out more about that high F.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I am trying to carry this message to other sugar addicts, and to practice these principles in all my affairs. This is really the greatest step of all. So empowering. Hey, I'm here to tell you that consuming your body weight in candy corn will not improve your job situation. Steam some vegetables! You'll thank me later.

Who wants a rice cake?

The Stay-Puff Marshmallow Monkey

It's November. It's November in New England. It's winter coat weather.

Chickadee adores her bus driver, and with good reason; that woman is remarkable. You couldn't pay me enough to get up early in the morning and drive around an entire busload of children. Half the time, I don't want to cart around the two who share my DNA, so really, I don't know where she gets her deep reserves of cheerfulness and goodwill, but I applaud her. The only downside to her great zeal for transporting our town's youth is that Monday mornings just don't come quickly enough for her liking. She is always early on Monday mornings.

Go ahead and take a guess which day of the week is the hardest one for us to get out the door on time. Go ahead! I'll wait.


Our bus stop is about a block away, and on Monday mornings, we drive. Heck, most Monday mornings, I'm in the process of driving over there when the bus comes around the corner and I end up screeching to a halt to run Chickadee over to where the bus driver has stopped to wait for us. We run over and I shove her on the bus while panting, "Sorry! Thanks for stopping!" and all the kids on the bus point and laugh. It's a delightful way to kick off the week.

Today, I was determined to get to the bus stop on time. And we did it! (Unfortunately, my fellow mothers were not quite so lucky. A mom from several streets over pulled up and hustled her child onto the bus, and after the bus pulled away someone else flagged it down before it turned back to the main road. Nice to know I'm not alone in my Mondayitis, at least.) I got everything and everyone packed and into the car and we made it to the bus stop with a minute or two to spare. Huzzah!

Given that we only drive a block, on a residential street with no traffic, I don't insist that the children buckle up for our jaunt to the bus stop. In fact, I may or may not back the car out of the garage at 45 mph while hollering, "Don't bother with your belts! No time! Must drive!" Part of my worry this morning--the first morning that the children have donned their winter coats--was that Monkey wasn't actually going to fit under the 5-point harness on his carseat. So we jetted to the neighbors, packed Chickadee into the bus, and then I tried to buckle him in to continue on our way to his school.

That's when things got ugly with Monkey. It pains me to use "ugly" and "Monkey" in the same sentence, because he is perhaps the most gorgeous boy-child ever to walk the face of the earth (based on my completely unbiased opinion, of course, and those big green eyes). But Monkey's new winter jacket is warm and fluffy and wonderful, and also transforms him into the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Monkey in a way that is nothing short of alarming.

Parents of little ones are familiar with the 5-point harness: two straps come over the shoulders, buckle in a plastic clip at chest-height, and then two smaller clips hook into the strap that comes up between the legs. If I pulled one strap over his shoulder, by the time I got the second one situated, the first one had sunk and disappeared in his lovely fluffy jacket. When I got the chest clip fastened, Monkey started making elaborate choking and gagging sounds while I tried to figure out where the clips for the crotch buckle had gone. (How many google hits do you suppose I will get for "crotch buckle" now? Ewwww.) I took him out of the seat and tried to loosen the straps to no avail. (The straps on Monkey's seat are adjustable... as long as you don't actually have the seat correctly buckled into your car. Once situated, the adjustable straps no longer adjust. Gah.)

Meanwhile, Monkey was entertaining himself by beating his chest and otherwise poking at his coat to see how fluffy he could make it and then how quickly he could squish it down again. If that jacket were white he totally could've gone on a city-wide rampage, all cute and adorable yet huge and frightening all at once!

I finally gave up. "Monkey," I said, "go sit in Chickadee's seat." Chickadee sits in a belt-positioning booster that uses the regular (adjustable!) car seat belt. He sat down and I buckled him right in, no problems. A huge grin broke over his face.

"I'm ridin' in Chickie's seat all the way to school? Really, Mama? REALLY?"

I found his excitement hilarious. I mean... hello... it's a seat and a seatbelt. The big deal is...? But as we drove I began to see that a whole new world had opened up to him and he must've felt like he'd won the lottery.

"This not squishing me AT ALL, Mama!" "Hey, I can turn around and look out the BACK! I'm not stuck!" "If it gets a little too tight, I just pull it like this and it's fine!" "I am just like a big kid, sitting here like this!"

He raved and gushed all the way to school. Part of it was the novelty, sure. And another part may have even been the thrill of being king-for-a-day (king-for-a-drive?) when used to being ruled by a tempermental princess. But a large part of it was just Monkey's special kind of joy at being big enough, a goal he spends much of his time pursuing.

"Good morning, Monkey," called out one of the teachers as we walked into the classroom.

"My coat is so puffy!" he answered happily. "I had to ride in my sister's seat! It was SO FUN!"

Monkey is nearly five years old, and around 38 pounds. Legally you can move a child to the regular car seatbelt (with a booster seat, please) once they reach 4 years or 30 pounds, whichever comes last. The seat he's in now allows the 5-point harness until 40 pounds, and I was trying to get him there before switching him to a belt-positioning booster. I've always reasoned that he's small for his age, and he's better protected in the 5-point harness.

But today was eye-opening for me. Monkey is my baby. I try not to treat him like a baby, but, did I mention that HE'S MY BABY? He's my last baby. I will never have another. Chickadee has been such a mini-adult her entire life; I was thrilled when Monkey came along, all cuddles and goofiness and childishness. I needed a little reminder that he's going to grow up whether I want him to or not, and it's okay, and he's still my baby even though he really isn't a baby anymore. He's old enough and big enough for a booster seat. So I came home and put the other booster seat in the car for him, and put away the old seat.

It's bittersweet. Of course, I must confess that my epiphany may have been spurred along just a little by the realization that I wasn't sure I could take another winter of buckling in and out over the puffy jacket....

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Just one more reason why I love her so

Despite Kira's staunch refusal to have a sex-change operation and marry me, I do love her like a soul-mate.

Behold but a sampling of the wisdom that issues forth from her on a regular basis:

"Where the heck are all the single Christians? I mean, do most people require the horrors of marriage to drive them into the arms of God?"

You can see why I am quite smitten.

Higher, too

It's started already. People are falling under the spell of the new me with my fabulous new glasses. Fame and fortune are within my grasp; as is utter humiliation. To wit:

The scene is the church kitchen. Choir rehearsal has finished, and I am hiding in the kitchen sucking down a cup of coffee before it's time to go upstairs for the service. I'm chatting with a fellow choir member. We are having a deeply spiritual conversation about the relative merits of various coffee makers.

Him: So yeah, it works pretty well, but it has one of those permanent filters, and so the coffee always tastes a little plasticy.
Me: Mmmm, plastic coffee!
Him: But you can use a regular paper filter, I guess. That would probably fix that problem.
Me: Uh huh. And how long have you been enjoying your plastic-flavored coffee?

The door swings open and the choir director sticks her head in. She looks around until she sees me, then points at me.

Her: Can you do an F?
Me: *blank stare*
Her: A high F. Can you hit a high F?
Me: Oh. Yeah, sure.
Her: Great! *she turns to leave*
Me: WAIT. Why?
Her: Will you be at rehearsal on Thursday?
Me: Yes...?
Her: Great! *she turns to leave*
Me: WHY??
Her: Yoooouuuu'll see!
*The choir director leaves and I swear we can hear her cackling all the way up the stairs.*
Me: Ack...?
Him: I think you've just been the victim of a hit-n-run solo.
Me: Goody.

You see, I do not mind singing solos. Truth be known, I'm a bit of an attention monger (shocking, I know). We've started rehearsals for our Christmas concert and I usually get assigned something extra and so yes, fine, a solo, excellent. But there's a big difference between "Can you hit a high F for maybe an eighth note duration amongst the entire choir of voices" and "Can you hit a high F for perhaps a very long time when yours is the only voice singing."

Because, friends, I am an alto. Okay, fine. On the off chance that my voice teacher from high school is reading this: I'm technically a mezzo, which means my range falls inbetween an alto and a soprano. But in most standard choral arrangements, one is either an alto or a soprano.

For those of you who don't sing, that means that I sing low. It means that while the chirpy ladies in the front row are singing melody just as perky as can be, I am in the second row singing some sort of low funky harmony filled with lots of sharps and flats and other weirdness, but no high Fs. I like it that way.

I'm ready to work up a new ad campaign for the makers of my frames. "Look smart, sexy, hip... and more like a soprano. Just see if you don't." I mean, it's possible the choir director was just smoking crack or something, but I tend to think it was the glasses.

Please check back next Thursday for a full-fledged panic attack, depending on what I find out. Also, if you'd like to come to our Christmas concert this year? It's on Sunday the eleventeenth of Pretendember. I hope you can all make it.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Hey, guess what! It is incredibly difficult to take a picture of oneself if one or more of the following conditions is true:

1) You're a lousy photographer.
2) You have normal-length arms.
3) Your fancy camera has a big-ass zoom lens, thereby assuring that there is no way to get the lens a decent distance from your face.
4) Your fancy camera's LCD display does not swivel so that it can be seen from the other side of the camera, and therefore half the pictures you take are either of the top of your head or your chin.

Who knew?

I promised a picture of the new specs, and I shall deliver. Too bad I can't share a picture of my whole face, but, well, I never got one that didn't feature freakily enlarged facial features on account of the above-mentioned issues. Not sharing those has nothing to do with my personal vanity, you understand. It's just that I don't want to detract from the beauty of my new glasses. That's it.


Here they are!

What you can't tell from this picture, because I suck, is that they are a deep plum purple. And the side pieces are all hammered and texture-y and nifty. Also, I am naked and sticking my tongue out. (Just kidding. I'm not naked.)

I can see clearly now

I think I forgot to mention that yesterday my new glasses finally arrived. I dragged the children out in 50 mile-per-hour gale force winds to pick them up, because I'm just that good of a mother.

Anyway, remember how these new glasses are going to make me look younger and thinner and sexier and blahdi blah blah? I'm not convinced. However, it's amazing how--when one has adapted to seeing poorly--finally being able to see clearly is such a shock. I mean, I knew my old glasses were scratched and spotted, but what a difference to put on lenses I could actually see through! So that part was pretty good. Briefly.

First problem: these glasses are smaller than my previous pair. (Please wake me when the trend towards ever-smaller frames is over, otherwise my next pair will be featuring lenses the size of Junior Mints.) That's all well and good, but it means that I can see the entire frame in my peripheral vision. I will adjust to this, after awhile, but I haven't, yet. No, right now I'm still doing a passable impression of your dog in his Halloween costume... "WHAT'S THAT THING?? Oh, it's attached to my head. Okay. WAIT! WHAT'S THAT?? Oh, right, the thing attached to my head. Hey I'M GONNA GET THAT THING... that's attached to my head. Dammit."

That may be interfering with the attractiveness aspect, just a tad.

The other problem is that now that I can see, um, I can see. As in, I woke up this morning and looked around my house and my horror at the squalor I beheld was heart-stopping. It's possible that my old glasses aren't entirely responsible for me being a lazy housekeeper, but try to work with me and the flow of the story here. Thanks. So I woke up and put on my new, clear glasses and realized that my house is disgusting, and said to myself, "Self," (I said) "I need to do some serious cleaning right now." Then my self answered ever-so-sweetly, "Pssst! Take your glasses off again and we can have breakfast and check email first!" So of course I did that; but afterwards, I started cleaning.

I cleaned all the bathrooms. I cleaned all the bedrooms. I changed sheets and towels and started laundry. I put away the Halloween decorations (shut up). I put away the clean dishes that have been sitting in the dishwasher for... ummm... well, I put them away and how long they were there is irrelevant. I reloaded the dishwasher. I cleaned the scary science experiments out of the fridge and dumped out containers and put them in the dishwasher. I filled and took out two gigantic bags of trash. I cleaned the kitchen. I picked up the various toys and books that have vomited forth from the playroom to every corner of the house. I spent some quality time with my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I sorted through a week's worth of mail and two weeks worth of school detritus from my little darlings. Then I stopped and had some candy corn.

What?? I said I got new glasses, not that I had a brain transplant.

I still need to vacuum and mop, but if I did that right away, then I'd have nothing to focus on except the fact that I still haven't raked and it's a beautiful day and I really should, so I'm trying to pace myself.

People, I polished my tea kettle. For real. I'm not sure what came over me. (Note to self: stop reading the "Little House" books with Chickadee.) I was a little worried about that, but then I realized that as soon as the kids come home, the entire house will be a shambles again. And at that point, should you come visit me, I can distract you from the mess with my shiny, shiny kettle. See how nicely that works out?

Also, I am a bit miffed about the whole vacuuming situation. I just vacuumed, seems like. Probably I didn't; probably it was a month ago, but I swear it seems like it was just last week. I cannot tell you how much I adore the school that Monkey attends; we have been patrons there for coming up on five years and it is a marvelous place run by incredible people. They have four different playgrounds on the premises. Every single one of them is sand. Sand as far as the eye can see. Sand under the swings, sand under the slides, sand all around the climbers, and a little extra sand in the sandbox. Nice and soft and lovely and cheap.

Guess who comes home five days a week with two sneakers filled to the brim with sand? We have devised multiple complex rituals for dealing with the sand; taking shoes off and emptying them out before we even enter the house, taking shoes off very carefully and dumping the sand in the trash; dumping out shoes before we even leave school, etc. Monkey is a charming child who is incapable of grasping the importance of not filling my entire frigging house with sand. There is no procedure that will sway him from his delight at seeing little piles of sand on the mud room floor. One day I was literally mid-sentence praising him for doing such a good job with his shoes and disposing of the sand properly, when he took off his jacket and sand poured from both pockets as he giggled.

It's a good thing he's cute.

Chickadee's school, on the other hand, is everything you'd want in a public elementary school. The playground is bedded with gravel. It toughens those kids up and more importantly, children tend not to come home with shoes full of rocks because that would be uncomfortable. She spends a lot of time in the nurse's office having her various boo-boos soothed, but my floor and I thank her. I plan to leave her all of my Magic Erasers in my will.

Anyway, I knew I needed to vacuum, but feeling my bare feet go CRUNCH CRUNCH across the mud room floor as I headed to the laundry almost sent me over the edge. Meanwhile, although it was the most annoying cleaning hurdle, trekking back and forth to tend to everything else was just spreading the sand out. So I figured I'd better save it for last.

Once the vacuuming and the mopping is done, I may take a shower and snap a picture of the new specs. Or I may take a nap. It's too close to call right now. But before I do any of that, I have to get this thing that keeps hovering right by my eye... oh, right. Crap. Nevermind.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Date night

I think maybe someday I'll have an actual date that involves leaving the house, on the weekend, but maybe not until after I'm dead. Don't ask me how that would work, logistically, because I have no idea. It made sense when I wrote it. Honest.

Anyway, after my snarky moment that produced the last post, I decided to share with everyone the Softer Side of Mir and give you a view into what has become my traditional Friday night. Uncut and uncensored! Wooooo!! Cover your children's eyes cuz this is gonna be wiiiiiild!

Or not. But it will be less bitchy than some of my previous stuff.

My wild no-holds-barred evening started with... a salad. I tried to warn you. I just get all freaky on the weekends. Well, the truth is that I have eaten so much candy this week my body staged a revolt and demanded something green. And I thought it best to give in before my brain got the brilliant idea to throw out the remaining candy. And anyway, it was necessary to have something semi-healthful to prepare myself for the veritable orgy to follow.

Deep breaths.

Okay, here's the truth of my wild and crazy evening. I popped a bag of kettle corn in the microwave. I grabbed a beer (not a bunch of beers, or even some nice wine... one. single. lite. beer). And I turned on What Not To Wear. Did you know that it's been clinically proven that there is a limit to how sorry you can feel for yourself while watching Stacy and Clinton tell some poor sap how fashion-retarded they are? It's true.

Also? Being single means you can eat popcorn in bed. (It also means that's the most exciting thing that happens in bed, but I'm trying to be positive, here.)

Watching this show totally makes me wish I wasn't such a sharp dresser. I could get behind having $5,000 to spend on a new wardrobe. But--alas--although my shortcomings could fill several volumes, I could actually be a poster child for "The Rules" that Stacy and Clinton are always trying to drill into people's heads. Carmindy would scold me for generally eschewing make-up, though. And the very fact that I am sitting in bed drinking beer, eating popcorn, and fantasizing about being on a television show aimed at the style oblivious, is a sign that I need a whole lotta help.

Don't all be jealous at once, now. I worked long and hard to attain my glamorous lifestyle, you know.

Newsflash: it's not anonymous!

So, hi, friends, and newcomers from Blog Explosion. You do all realize that when you rate blogs, it's not anonymous, right? Because, um, I'm not gonna name any names, here, but some people who have me blogrolled have recently gone to Blog Explosion and given my little ol' blog a lousy rating.

This leads me to believe one or more of the following:

1) You're stupid.

2) You have lousy taste.

3) Someone held a gun to your head and forced you to blogroll me (and really, if that happens? please contact the news because I think such a story would be fascinating), and then you thought you were rating me anonymously and I wouldn't know it was you.

4) You're drunk.

I mean, hey. Whatever. It's not a huge deal. But why blogroll me if you think I suck? I don't get it. Of course, there are lots of things I don't get. Like low-carb pasta. Or thinking that exercise is fun. Or decaffeinated coffee. Or refusing to enjoy movies that have subtitles. Or brazilian bikini waxes. The list goes on; this is just to show you that I'm fully aware that lots of things in the world puzzle me and I've made peace with this confusion. This particular thing, though? I think may be predicated on the notion of some sort of stealth and incognito-ness, and if that's the case, I just wanted to let y'all know you're mistaken.

And also busted. Thanks, by the way.

I've been frying my retinas; what's her excuse?

I've decided to spruce up the pit a little. You know; if I'm gonna be spending most of my time down here, I may as well be comfortable. I've added imaginary flokati rugs and a groovy lava lamp, just because. On the non-fictitious side, I've finally dug out and dusted off my lightbox, and just spent my first half-hour of the season sitting in front of it.

Now I am blind. But! So much happier! Well, not really. After about a week of consistent use, I will stop wanting to sleep all the time, though. Which will, of course, give me more time to lay on the rug eating candy and admiring my imaginary lava lamp.

It's good to have goals.

You may recall how thrilled I was to have a 100% successful round of eBay auctions. No dumb questions, and all of my buyers were lovely people who paid me on time. Naturally this gave me a false sense of hope and impelled me to tempt fate by posting up twice as many auctions the following week, and now I am paying for my foolish optimism. In each and every auction description the following line appears:

Shipping: I will ship this item within the U.S. only.

Confusing, yes? That's why a nice lady emailed me yesterday to ask if I will "ship international." I was very tempted to reply that I only ship internationally for those who meet my stringent grammar requirements, and thus I had to decline her request. Instead I was polite in my response, but a feeling of dread has come over me. The morons have found me again.

How long would I have to sit in the glow of the lightbox before I am either immune or just too blind to read my email?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Greetings from the pit

For a while there, I had my funk on. I mean for real. For the last couple of days, I have been honing The Wallow into a delicate art form, reaching sublime heights of self-pity and hopelessness. I have consumed naught but Halloween candy and coffee, slept more hours than I care to admit, ignored my phone, discarded my mail, and sported the Sloppy Ponytail Of What The Hell Does It All Matter Anyway.

I was down deep, and wanting nothing more than to burrow deeper still.

If this were fiction, now I would tell you about how the perfect job offer fell out of the sky, or my friends gathered around me and sang Kumbaya, or some crisis with the children forced me to pull myself together, or that I was reaching for a jar of spanish olives at the grocery store and my fingertips brushed those of a tall, dark, handsome stranger. Who was rich. And fell in love with me immediately. You know; something good, like that.

None of these things happened. My friends are marvelous. I adore my friends; each and every one of you (and you know who you are, or if you don't I will smack you later) is regarding me with puzzlement, and concern, and helplessness. And love. I know that I am loved, even as I know that what I need--in large part--is not going to come from one of you, much to our mutual chagrin. I know that if I could figure out what it is that I need, and if that thing were something any of you could offer, I could ask and it would be provided. Reality is, of course, so much more complicated than that. But this hypothetical is a comfort, even down in the pit.

Anyway. Salvation has not arrived just yet, but the multiple hesitant overtures from those I love, together with two little faces regarding me as Someone Who Is In Control, have served to prod me into grabbing those proverbial bootstraps. Picture me, dear readers, leaning over some very shoddy boots and trying to grab their straps. I am of course having great difficulty with this task, as both hands are full of candy corn. But pretend I stuffed the candy corn in my mouth, and am now pulling the boots up. They're ugly, and uncomfortable, but there I am, pulling them up, anyway.

So that's how it came to be that I was sitting at the computer this evening, half-heartedly surfing the job ads in my local paper, when a friend phoned. I almost didn't pick up; but this is a friend with whom I haven't spoken for a while, so on the last ring before my machine grabbed it, I answered. In no time at all, I found myself embroiled in a lively debate wherein my friend insisted that she knows a woman with an adam's apple. I was trying to explain to her why most people call women with adam's apples men. This discussion became more prolonged than you might believe possible; but she lives in West Virginia, if that's any explanation.

[Side note, since she's probably already pissed at me for mentioning that: my ex's family is from West Virginia, so nothing gives me quite so much joy as ragging on West Virginians for being hicks. In fact, in a bizarre six degrees of inbred-ness twist of events, we had been friends for years before figuring out that her mother is best buddies with one of my ex's aunts. Go figure. And that was how I came to learn--during my divorce proceedings--that I was not only refusing to work and robbing my ex blind, but also having an affair! After recovering from the shock of the entire state of West Virginia knowing this before I did, I informed my friend that she should let the gossipy aunt know that if I was having an affair, I was sorely disappointed in the lack of sex.]

Maybe it was the extended banter about the suspected hermaphrodite that lifted my spirits, initially. A giggle or two turned into laughing fits and threats of incontinence (from her). As we talked I was still scanning the jobs. "OH!" I exclaimed. "I have to read you this one! What a great job!" The mirth ceased as she waited expectantly.

"Food Demonstrator," I read in my best serious voice. "Immediate openings for local supermarket, Thursday through Saturday 11 am to 5 pm. You pick the days. Up to $9/hr!" Here I paused to collect myself for what came next. But I couldn't quite pull it off--my voice cracked as I added, "Must have own card table."

We howled. Howled. Not that you need your own transportation, or a valid driver's license, or some sort of certification. No. A card table. I mean, sure, we'd love to hire you based on your love of demonstrating food, what with the complex process of lifting it up and putting it into one's mouth and all; not everyone can handle that. But no card table? I'm so sorry. We hooted and cackled and added our own commentary until we could barely breathe. I was wiping tears from my eyes during a pause when she said,

"Well? Do you have a card table??"

"SHIT! No!" And we were off in fresh gales. We laughed so hard and so long that the next time she threatened to wet her pants, I had a horrible thought.

"Hey! You're gonna pee, but I think maybe I'm bipolar. This is bordering on a manic episode," I said. Real friends know when to laugh and when to be serious. She didn't let me down.

"Oh no," she said, her voice low. "I think maybe you should... buy a card table!"

That was a long and pointless story to let you all know that I think I'm going to live. I'm not out of the pit or anything, but there's a ladder here. Even though I am apparently so lacking that I cannot even get a job as a food demonstrator. But if anyone wants to pay me to show them how to eat candy, let me know.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


One of the joys of moving to public school and first grade is that Chickadee's world had suddenly expanded due to "Specialists." Every day her class "does a Specialist," which is grade-school-speak for going to music, or art, or gym. Part of the excitement is leaving the classroom and switching teachers as well as locales, making Specialist time quite special indeed.

While most of the Specialists are doing similar things to what she did in private kindergarten last year, the attainment of a gymnasium full of equipment has been the pinnacle of exotic change. I struggle to follow along as she tells me stories on Monday afternoon ("Monday is Gym Specialist!") of elaborate games involving some children being wolves with rubber chickens while others are hunters on scooter boards, pulling tote bags. I have to admit, it sounds fun (if a bit complicated).

Early in the year, they had a limbo contest during gym. My Chickadee excelled at this, and no wonder. Those are some tricky little birdie feet she has, and very flexible knees, all to go along with her surprising strength that seems impossible for a wisp of a kid. But limbo she did, and limbo she has ever since. "Evvvvvvvverybody liiiiiiiiimbo!" she'll call out as she drops her shoulders back and shimmies under my arm resting on the bathroom doorway. "Hey Mama, put your hand on the counter," she'll exhort as we're standing in the kitchen. Once I comply she's dancing under my forearm with a huge grin. "Look how low I can go, Mom!"

It occurred to me today that once again my daughter and I are reflecting one another through a filter that renders us similar but oh-so-different. She is dancing with abandon, relishing how low she can go. I am living that other limbo, seeing how low I've sunk, and waiting for the inevitable shift in balance that will send me crashing to the ground.

Today I have been unemployed for exactly fifty-four weeks. I have formally applied for thirty-five different jobs (that doesn't include networking and informational contacts). It would appear that I am still without employment.

It feels like every other statement out of my mouth starts with, "Once I...." Once I get him out of the house, I can start figuring things out. Once I have the divorce finalized, I can move on. (Um, the divorce has been finalized for eight months, now. Apparently I am awaiting a written invitation to start living again.) Once I have a job, I can make some financial decisions. Once I don't have to pay for daycare anymore, I can work a crap job and actually have some money. Once I start dating again, I... hmm. I don't actually know what that last one would mean, other than that hell has frozen over.

My world has been in limbo for so long, I'm not sure I'd know how to resume moving forward if the perfect moment smacked me upside the head. In the meantime, I find myself wistful and jealous to behold my daughter's giggles as she contorts her body to slide under obstacles. Me? I've been treading water in a very small, very cold pond for what is starting to feel like eternity. I'm tired. A review of the choices that brought me to the present shakes my confidence to the point where doing nothing seems safer than trying anything.

Limbo: It's probably a nice place to visit, but it sure sucks to live here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Even my politics come back to food in the end

In my state there is no sort of identification check at the polls. You walk in, give your name, and get a ballot. Three different people mark your name off a list, which is a wonderful system of checks and balances and a good use of time considering that I could walk in there and pretend to be my neighbor, a friend, or just about anyone with a common last name. Polling fraud? No way! Not here! Thanks for your vote, Ms. Smith!

The political signs in everyone's yards and along the sides of the road baffle me under the best of circumstances. I mean, okay; this is America! Land of the free and the home of the billboard! I get that. And I even sorta kinda get putting a sign in your own yard, if you feel passionate about letting everyone know your political preference. But on the roads? On highway ramps? Why?? This has always confused me. Worse yet are all the people standing along the roads with signs today. Can someone point me to a documented case where an informed voter (heck, even an uninformed voter) was driving to the polls with every intention of casting her vote for Candidate X and then passed a person waving a Candidate Y sign and thought to herself, "Self, I've had this all wrong. Look at that font. Behold the red stripe of freedom. And the sign holder is clearly freezing in the drizzle so he must be right about Candidate Y!"? I don't think so.

Now for some useful information: The antidote for eating way too much Halloween candy is to drop the kids off for their dinner with Daddy and then purchase a quart of hot-and-sour soup from the cheap Chinese takeout. Eat until you feel sick. This will enable you to walk past the candy bags for once without grabbing something. (For an hour, anyway.)

Ready, willing, and filled with dread

Chickadee has the day off from school today, and will be coming with me to the polls. I'm trying to figure out how to make this a learning experience without letting her catch on the to fact that I dread just about everything about election day. Maybe I can tell her that we vote and then we spend several days waiting to hear who really won and then everyone argues about it before, during, and after and that's just lots of FUN! No? Hmmm.

I've also been informed that a decision will be made today about the That Job I'm Not Thinking About and I will hear tonight or tomorrow. So that, on top of it being election day, is just about too much for a control freak like me to take. I need some more snack-size Butterfingers.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Indomitable... kinda

I want to write about something meaningful and deep and all that, but my mind keeps returning to my plethora of interview-related faux pas from this morning. (What is the plural of faux pas? Faux pases? Faux pax? Faux pas de deux?) I may as well just bare all and hope that by allowing the entire internet to see what a dork I am, ultimately I will be able to stop thinking about it for a while. You know, sort of a delegation of responsibility.

Okay, team! Listen up! You, over there, spend the next few hours pondering what a tremendous misfit I am, and when you tire of it, pass the baton to the next person. But I need to move on to some other issues, like why it is that you can buy the Equate brand equivalents of many of my favorite beauty products for half what the name brands cost, and the ingredient lists appear to be identical, but it's possible that "other ingredients" is actually code for "goat urine."

Okay, so, my morning included (but was not limited to) the following:

1) Spending half an hour walking around my house in my bathrobe, clutching the outfit I intended to wear, strolling in and out of different patches of sunlight and artificial light, trying to determine whether my blouse was the same navy blue as the color in the pattern of my blazer. (Can you tell that one too many times I have left the house in an outfit that matched in my bathroom that was later revealed in full sunlight to clash horribly?)

2) Spending fifteen minutes applying cover-up to my eleventy billion pimples because at 33 years old stress will still cause me to break out like a horny teenage boy.

3) Pinching my eyelid in my eyelash curler so hard that my eyes watered and I had to muster every ounce of willpower to suck those tears back into my eyeballs because I had already applied my mascara, dammit.

4) Brilliantly getting the idea to generate Mapquest directions to my destination because the directions sent to me didn't take into account my starting point, and I was just so sure there was a shorter and faster way to get there. Well, there was. Too bad I missed the very first turn. Then I figured I could wing it, getting to Road A at a different point and then following the directions to turn on Road B to get to Road C. Road A comes to a T (which way?) and then as you're starting to wonder if you chose the right direction it forks (which way??) and then turns into Road X for a while (WTF????) and then I have a nervous breakdown and call the interviewer to confess that I am either almost there or very lost.

5) Realizing, as I screeched the car to a stop at my destination, that OH MY GOD I am wearing navy clothing, navy shoes (pretty, pretty navy shoes) and carrying a black purse. Why have the fashion gods not struck me dead right here and now? An oversight. What to do? Aha! Leave the purse in the car! Carry cell phone and keys. Better to be a loser juggling belongings when the time comes to shake hands, than to let it be known that I am the only adult woman in America who never learned to coordinate her bag with her shoes.

6) Fumbling through the same information I already imparted in the previous two interviews (albeit with different people) in this odyssey, realizing how lame it all sounds, trying to cheer myself with the silent reminder that anything starts to sound stupid if you say it often enough. (Toy boat, toy boat, toy boat, toy boat....)

7) Being not so much interviewed as made to sit through various descriptions of what the job might entail, what has happened before, what the expectation is for the future, and being offered Dunkin Donuts munchkins (I declined). Then being asked if I thought I could handle it. Do you suppose anyone, at that point, says, "No, I'm sure I can't. I'll just be going now!"? Seems unlikely. And yet, I didn't feel like I was able to offer any concrete evidence for my superiority over anyone else. Unless the munchkins were part of the testing, and declining them demonstrated strength of character rather than what it really was (enough stress and nerves that they might've made me puke).

8) Leaving with no indication of what might happen next, or when.

9) Getting lost again on a different route on the way home. What can I say? I'm talented.

The only uplifting thing I can tell you with certainty, after all of that, is that my hair looked really nice today. Should they be determining this position on smooth shiny hair, it's in the bag. Should they be deciding based on any other factors, well, did I mention how nice my hair looks? Yeah.

You know, sometimes things seem really bleak. And sometimes I come home and have a whole bunch of snack sized candy bars and then decide that's a poor excuse for lunch and then try to balance it out with a lot of coffee. After that? Things are still kinda bleak, but who the hell cares. Did you know that there are inside-out Reeses cups? If you don't picture your son puffing up like a blowfish and asphyxiating while you eat them, they're really quite good. Tra la la!

Dontcha just hate...

... when you pinch your eyelid in your eyelash curler?

... when you forget to bring the packages you meant to mail on your way back from the appointment just beyond the post office?

... when the appointment "just beyond the post office" turns out to be about ten miles beyond the post office and you get lost--twice!--on your way there?

... when you go to what you think is the final interview in a loooong process and the person interviewing you says, "We're in the preliminary stages of talking to people, of course"?

Me too. Happy &*#$^@ Monday.